When is it time to break up? 15 signs you need to end the relationship

Image credit: Shutterstock - Cookie Studio

Should you end your relationship?

It’s a big, emotional decision, and if you decide to go through with it you’ll drastically change your life and theirs.

It’s a decision that can’t be taken lightly.

When you look back on your life in 5 years, it could be the best decision you’ve ever made.

But it could also be the worst.

In this article, we’re going to through 15 good reasons you should end the relationship, and then we’ll go over 9 horrible reasons to end the relationship.

By the end of it, hopefully you’ll be more informed on what course of action you should take.

1) You’re not acting yourself

One of the best ways to figure out if your relationship is working isn’t to look at your partner, but to look at yourself.

Are you behaving like your normal self? Or are you acting crazy and emotional? Are you scared of what you say around your partner?

In the end, the best relationships are the ones where you can be your true self.

If you’re wary of how you act around your partner, then you’re probably not going to be happy in the long run.

Here are 7 signs that you’re not comfortable around your partner:

1) You’re tiptoeing and hiding things from your partner.
2) You’re constantly monitoring your actions and words, worried about your partner’s opinion.
3) You’re feeling anxious and frustrated whenever your partner is in your presence. This cloud lifts whenever you’re not.
4) You’re worried about being judged.
5) You can’t stare into your partner’s eyes for more than 5 seconds.
6) You can’t say what you mean.
7) You don’t trust them: You’ve just got this constant feeling in your stomach that something is wrong.

According to Andrea Bonior Ph.D, apologizing for your behavior and not being your true self is a clear sign of a controlling relationship:

“It is a warning sign to be taken seriously if you frequently have to apologize to your partner for who you are. Does it seem that you are never good enough? Do your partner’s standards feel like they can never be met? When taken to the extreme, this is a clear-cut sign of a controlling relationship.”

2) They’re putting you down and making you feel like sh*t

If you’re feeling crap around them because they’re lowering your self-esteem with subtle, backhanded statements, then it’s a clear sign that the relationship probably isn’t benefiting you.

It’s never fun to be on the receiving end of an insulting comment. You might tell yourself to ignore the comment, but part of it may inevitably stick, and you worry that something is actually “wrong” with you.

This is a common occurrence in a relationship with a narcissist. They love the feeling of control, and putting you down makes it easier for them to control you.

When you have low self-esteem, you become more vulnerable.

If they’re also mixing these backhanded compliments with “love bombs” – actions of affection designed to make you love them – then it’s probably an emotional rollercoaster that you don’t want to put yourself through anymore.

The relationship love doctor, Rhoberta Shaler, describes these people as “hijackals” because they “hijack relationships for their own purposes, while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control.”

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out if your partner is a “hijackal”:

1) Are you always wrong, even if what you’re saying is factual?

2) Are you always trying to please them, but it never seems to be enough?

3) Does your partner always justify their behavior, even if it is clearly wrong or outrageous?

4) Is your partner always taken advantage of you?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then it might be time to leave them for your own emotional health.

A toxic partner sucks the life out of you little by little. Maybe with hurtful comments, slight nudges, comments that take away your confidence.

Just small enough that you can never complain about them.

3) You’re hiding them from your loved ones

Introducing your family and friends to your partner is not something you take lightly. It’s a big step.

And for most people, it’s equally important to win over their partner’s family as it is their own.

Every relationship is unique, so there is obviously no right or wrong time to make it happen.

But if you’ve been together for a significant about of time, and you still haven’t introduced them to your inner circle, or vice versa, then something is up.

According to relationship expert, Susan Winter, “gaining access to your partner’s inner circle is a mark of their commitment”.

So if you feel like you just can’t introduce them to your family or friends, then that’s a red flag that there might not be much of a future.

Here’s a great tweet that sums up how you might really feel:

If you have introduced them to your family and they’re not making an effort to make a good impression, then that could be a sign that they’re not invested in the relationship themselves.

4) Your friends and family don’t like them

If you like your partner and no one else does, then maybe it’s time for you to take a step back and consider why this is the case.

Outside perspectives can you give you a lot of insight when you’re too close to the situation.

There’s generally always a good reason why your loved ones might not like the person you’re dating.

After all, their main intentions are to look after you, and you might be blinded by love.

So, if your friends and family are warning you about your relationship, then that’s a giant red flag.

Take a step back and objectively assess why that’s the case. You might figure out that they’re just not the right person for you.

According to marriage counselor Nicole Richardson, it’s definitely something to pay attention to if your family has your best intentions at heart:

“If we have a healthy family and we know that our family always has our best intentions at heart, then [their criticism] is something to pay attention to…If we have a family that’s a little toxic and judgmental, the family might be worried about their own interests and that might null their opinion.”

5) You can’t help but be mean to them

So far we’ve talked about your partner being mean to you, but it’s also important to consider if you’re being mean to your partner.

Are you putting them down to gain control? Are you playing games in an effort to manipulate them? Do you intrinsically know that they love you more than you love them?

If you are putting someone down and taking advantage of them, then it’s clear that you don’t like them very much.

And the longer this type of one-sided relationship goes on, the more it’s going to hurt them when it ends.

Sometimes, you need to let go of someone to give them the freedom to find someone who will treat them better.

According to Megan Fleming, a New York City-based psychologist and sex therapist, a sign that you’re treating your partner poorly is if you’re blaming your partner for issues that are actually caused by you:

“It’s a bad sign if you tend to blame instead of taking ownership for your own issues…Men and women who blame always believe that the problem lies with the other person.”

6) The relationship is moving much faster than you want

Decided to move into together but you know you don’t really want to? Meeting the family, but you never really wanted to go in the first place?

These are clear signs that perhaps you don’t want to be in the relationship.

Maybe it’s convenient for you now, but if you’re not ready to take the necessary steps forward, then there’s clearly something that’s holding you back.

And you shouldn’t feel pressured to do things or make moves that you don’t want to. That’s a sign of an imbalanced relationship.

According to author, relationship and etiquette expert April Masin, if you’re in a serious relationship, there are some important conversations that you need to be having, and if you’re not having those conversations, then it’s likely that things are moving too fast (or there isn’t much of a future):

“You should talk about your hopes and dreams, your past, your debt, your feelings about kids, family, lifestyles, religion, and more…When you don’t, these issues come up later, and can be deal breakers.”

Take a step back and ask yourself if you want this relationship to ever move forward. It’s okay to move slowly, but it does need to move forward in some way.

7) You’re experiencing constant relationship anxiety

Relationship anxiety is a form of anxiety concerning romantic relationships. Instead of being happy with the relationship, one constantly doubts the strength of their love.

Dr. Amanda Zayde, a clinical psychologist at the Montefiore Medical Center, told NBC that some form of relationship anxiety is normal, but it can become an issue when it gets overbearing:

“It is important to note that everyone has some relationship anxiety, and that’s to be expected…However, if you find yourself hypervigilant for clues that something is wrong, or if you experience frequent distress that impacts your daily life, please, take some time to address it.”

But if it’s normal to have concerns about one’s relationship, how can you be so sure that it is genuinely a problem?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1) Are you constantly questioning their behavior when they’re not with you?
2) Are you constantly doubting their love for you?
3) Are you constantly doubting yourself and the value you’re offering in the relationship?

If you can’t stop thinking in these three ways then that could be a sign that this relationship just isn’t working.

Usually, when a relationship works, there’s no need to constantly doubt the love they have for each other.

Relationship anxiety usually happens when the love between two partners isn’t balanced.

You’re continually expending energy trying to please your partner, but they’re not doing the same for you.

In the end, you feel emotionally drained because the resulting energy of the relationship is negative, not positive.

The fact of the matter is this:

If you’re in a relationship, then you should feel pretty confident that you love them and they love you.

If you’re not on the same page, then that’s a sign that perhaps things aren’t working.

8) You keep on taking a break

If you keep breaking-up, then getting back together again, maybe you need to reassess things.

Perhaps each time you think things will get better, but then the same old issues pop up over and over again.

If you’re reliving the same fights over and over, it could be a sign that there are some issues that you will never be able to overcome.

There’s obviously a significant reason you’re taking these breaks, and perhaps it simply isn’t resolvable.

There’s a certain time when you need to ask yourself if anything has seriously changed, and if they haven’t, then it might be time to take a break for good.

9) You keep talking about “when” the relationship is better

You are both convinced that the relationship will get better, but “when” you have more money, or “when” they are less stressed in his/her job.

Many people “hope” that their partner will change, but they never do.

You can’t expect someone to change when they hit some milestone.

Yes, it might happen – but if holding onto things like this is the only thing that’s keeping you in the relationship, then it might be a bad sign that things are never really going to change.

You should base your relationship on how you feel about the present right now. Because if you’re always looking to the future, you might never be happy in the present.

10) You’re consistently thinking about hooking up with other people

The occasional thought of hooking up with someone else is normal, but if it’s something you can’t stop envisioning, and you fail to get excited when you think about your own partner in bed, then it could be a sign that you’re finding the relationship a little boring.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that every long-term relationship gets a little bit stale every now and then.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the sexual honeymoon phase of new relationships tends to last about 2-3 years:

“While there is a honeymoon phase of about two to three years with long-term couples during which sexual satisfaction is high among couples of both sexual outlooks, it begins to become less stable after that.”

All you need to do is switch up the romance a little bit, or have a good, old fashion talk about sex with your partner.

But if you’ve tried all you can, and you still can’t stop thinking about sleeping with other people, or you can’t get sexually excited about your partner in any sense of the word, then it could be a sign that you’re already halfway out of the relationship.

11) They’re way too needy – or you are too clingy

Have they stopped you from seeing your friends? Are they trying to control your schedule? Do they not trust anything you do when you’re not with them? Do they want to spend time with you at every minute of every day?

What may seem romantic and lovey-dovey can also turn out to be too clingy and insecurely attached.

Even if you’re in a close relationship, you should always be free to live your own life. Controlling someone else’s schedule is never cool.

So if your world or their world revolves around each other, and they’re controlling you in any way they can, it’s a warning sign that it could be a toxic relationship.

According to New York-based dating expert Tracey Steinberg, if your partner is clingy it could be a sign that they are more interested in you than you are in them:

“Let’s face it: If Bradley Cooper texted you ten times, you’d be blasting it to every person you know… The point is that this same action could seem really, really annoying, though, if it’s coming from someone you have less interest in.”

12) There’s no trust

You can’t trust anything they do or say. If they say they’re going out with their friends, you can’t be sure of what they’re really doing.

For all you know, they could be having a secret relationship on the side.

And of course, without trust, a relationship can’t grow. Your mind won’t stop wandering in all directions about what they’re doing behind your back.

Rob Pascale, Ph.D. says in Psychology Today that trust is one of the most important facets of a successful relationship:

“Trust is one of the keystones of any relationship—without it two people cannot be comfortable with each other and the relationship lacks stability.”

13) They’ve cheated on you

Before we enter a relationship, most people say that if their partner ever cheated, they would walk away without any thought.

But we all know that this is a lot easier said than done.

After all, in a long-term relationship, you’ve built a strong emotional connection and anything that intense is difficult to simply walk away from.

But at the same time, many people do walk away when their partner cheats on them – and most would say that it was the correct decision.

So if you’re wondering if you should break up with your partner because they cheated, here are three questions worth asking yourself:

1) Do they care that they’ve hurt you? Do you they even understand they’ve hurt you? And do they truly regret what they did?

2) Do you know the full extent of their cheating? Have they actually been honest with you about it?

3) Will you be able to move on? Or will the fact they’ve cheated always be in the back of our mind? Will you be able to trust them again?

4) Is it worth saving the relationship? Or is it better to move on?

Answer these questions truthfully, and you’ll begin figuring out if the relationship is worth saving.

14) You haven’t been happy with the relationship for a while

Now if you can’t stop thinking about what life would be like if you weren’t in the relationship, and if you’re feeling down about the relationship for a while, then that’s a warning sign that you’ll feel freer if let go of the relationship.

We should only be in relationships if they make us happy and improve our life. Otherwise, we’re better off to leave and be by ourselves.

One option could be to take a break from each other – and see how life opens up for you’re not with your partner.

15) Your lives are simply heading in a different direction

The beginning of a relationship is always the best. It’s fun, exciting and sexy.

The future doesn’t matter so much. It’s all about the now and the happiness you’re finding in it.

But when the beginning stages wears off, you start thinking about the future. Maybe one person wants kids, but the other partner never will.

One partner may be focused on their career and earning money, whereas the other partner simply wants to work 9-5 on weekdays and then forget about work.

There are many life directions that people journey through, and it could be that you and your partner are simply on a different path that won’t work well together.

Also, according to relationship expert, Tina B Tessina, once the euphoria of a new relationship wears off, reality sets in:

“Both partners relax, and stop being on their best behavior. Old family habits assert themselves, and they begin to disagree about things they were tolerant of before”.

[Struggling to get over a break-up? In my new eBook The Art of Breaking Up: The Ultimate Guide to Letting Go of Someone You Loved, you’ll learn how to accept yourself, your feelings and the breakup, and ultimately move forward with a life full of joy and meaning. Check it out here.]

9 wrong reasons to break up

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Roman Kosolapov

1) Petty irritations

When you spend a lot of time with one person, you’re bound to find something that irritates you. It’s inevitable.

However, if you break up with somebody over these petty irritations, it might be something you look back on with regret.

Does the fact that they leave clothes on the floor really hinder your life that much?

If you continue to let these annoyances get to you in a relationship, then it might lead to other, bigger things that irk you about your partner.

Sometimes you have to accept that there will be little things that annoy about your partner – but to understand that they are little and are not going to really affect your life.

2) You’re not happy ALL the time

Like anything in life, relationships have their rocky moments. They’ll also have their boring moments.

But just because some days you’re a little more unhappy or bored in your relationship doesn’t mean you should break up. You can’t be ridiculously happy all the time. There’s always a balance.

And ignoring the duller aspects of a relationship will probably lead to bigger problems down the road.

In her book “The Real Thing”, writer Ellen McCarthy quotes Diane Sollee, a marriage educator who explains that too many people have unrealistic fantasies about their relationship:

“[Sollee] wants couples who are getting ready to walk down the aisle to know — really know — that it will be hard. That there will be times when one or both of them want out and can barely stand the sight of each other. That they’ll be bored, then frustrated, angry, and perhaps resentful.”

She adds:

“Diane also wants them to know that all of these things are normal.”

3) You’re not interested in the same things

So the relationship is going smoothly. Rapport is high. But you’ve overlooked the fact that your hobbies and interests don’t align.

But don’t fear! This is no reason to break-up with someone.

According to Stephanie Sarkis, PhD in Psychology Today:

“Couples with very different interests can have healthy relationships – what counts is that they share common goals and values.”

4) You’re both attracted to other people

Just because you started dating someone doesn’t mean you can’t look at other people and find them attractive. We’re only primates with instincts after all.

You can admire someone else at a healthy distance though – it doesn’t make you unfaithful or less attracted to your partner.

David Bennett, a relationship expert, told Medical Daily:

“Attraction is largely subconscious. We check people out because we are attracted to them and ‘sizing them up…This doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than that we find the person attractive.”

5) Over an argument

Just because you had an argument doesn’t mean you have to break-up. It’s perfectly normal for couples to have fights and disagreements.

Fighting isn’t a sign that something is wrong in the relationship – it just means you’ve had a disagreement, and as long as you’re not trying to deliberately hurt each other, fighting doesn’t mean the end of the relationship.

In fact, believe it or not, couples who argue effectively are 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship than those who sweep difficult issues under the carpet, according to a survey of almost 1,000 adults.

6) Over money

Money can be the root of so many problems and there are bound to be some financial conflicts in most relationships, but it doesn’t mean the end.

There might be differences in spending habits, tolerance of debit or credit, bad investments…the list goes on.

As long as you communicate, be honest and try to work things out fairly, money shouldn’t ruin a relationship.

7) The honeymoon phase is over

It happens to every relationship. The honeymoon phase finishes and the allure starts to fade.

Annoyances creep in and it isn’t as fun as it once was.

But, no it doesn’t mean that your relationship is over. It just means that the relationship is getting real.

Psychologists have said that the more you get to know someone, the more you’ll realize that they are not perfect.

Remember, the honeymoon stage is not reality and it simply isn’t possible for it to last forever.

8) They’re not fulfilling your dreams

As humans, we love to dream and fantasize about our perfect life. But having incredibly high expectations of the “perfect relationship” is setting yourself up for disappointment.

As much as you might fantasize and dream, you’re not a prince or princess and life isn’t always fair.

Sometimes you have to forget about those unrealistic fairytales and front up to reality. If there’s something you really want out of your partner, communicate it!

9) Fear of commitment

This is a common reason to break-up. After all, it’s a big commitment to enter into a long-term relationship.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times in life when you’re really not ready, but if you can really feel that you like them and you’re getting all the feels, then don’t let the fear of commitment get in your way.

If you found this article useful, then check out my latest eBook: The Art of Breaking Up: The Ultimate Guide to Letting Go of Someone You Loved

You’ll learn how to accept yourself, your feelings and the breakup, and ultimately move forward with a life full of joy and meaning.

Together, we’ll work through even your toughest emotions and set you on the path to a confident, fulfilling future.

Check it out here.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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